ESPN Unveils On-Air Talent Team
What can we expect from the roster of 24?
ESPN Team Diverse and Wide Ranging
The Big Announcement: No free agent signings. No draft picks selected. The Stanley Cup unawarded. It’s certainly a bizzarro month in the hockey world.
As the NHL continues to play games in July for the first time ever, it’s also the month when ESPN’s new TV deal kicks in. Not wasting any time, the network continued to unveil their roster of on-air talent last week. In total, we now officially know 24 of the announcers, analysts, and reporters that will cover the NHL for ESPN starting next season.
What do you need to know?
The Active Roster: With a mix of experience, youthfulness, credentials, social media savvy, and fresh faces, ESPN’s on-air NHL team has a little bit of everything, including nine Stanley Cups, 10 Olympic medals, and three collegiate national championships.
Names that jump off the page
Leah Hextall: a native of Manitoba, Canada, Hextall becomes the first woman to be hired as a play-by-play announcer in NHL history.
Sean McDonough: McDonough is set to be the lead play-by-play announcer and will call the Stanley Cup final. He’s back in primetime after calling “Monday Night Football” in 2016-17.
The crew also includes an impressive list of former players, including new additions in Chris Chelios and Mark Messier. ESPN Deportes is not to be left out either, with Kenneth Garay and Eitán Benezra handling the play-by-play. Carlos Rossell and Antonio Valle are set to provide analysis and color commentary.
Didn't Make the Cut: The announcement was not without some surprises. When these things are announced, sometimes there's more interest in who didn’t make the cut than who did. In this category, Mike “Doc” Emiric comes to mind. While not an omission — he retired from calling hockey last fall — he’ll be missed after being a media mainstay for over 47 years.
Another former mainstay, Gary Thorne — who was ESPN’s lead hockey announcer from 1992-2004, calling all but one Stanley Cup final in that span — is the omission sparking most dialogue. Although not on the recently announced list, ESPN did say talks are active between the network and the 72-year-old veteran. So, stay tuned there. All in all, it’s an impressive list of diverse voices that should appeal to a range of audiences. As a unique July continues, it gives fans more to look forward to as next season is already almost upon us.
Links from the Rink
Making a Comeback? Gary Thorne interested in returning on new ESPN TV deal
Arriving in Style: Joel Armia arrives at Game 1 by private jet